Defining uncertainty in projects - a new perspective

  • Perminova O
  • Gustafsson M
  • Wikström K
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Abstract

The aim of this paper is to discuss the phenomenon of uncertainty in projects and attempt to integrate it as part of project management. Despite the fact that project risk management discipline has gained a lot of attention in the past decade from both academia and practitioners, there is still considerable potential for development in this field. Recent trends in project management stress the need to readdress the issue of uncertainty. Though one can come across the notion of uncertainty in traditional project risk and uncertainty management literature rather often, there is no common understanding between the scholars as to what this term means. Based on the review of the existing research, we present our own definition of uncertainty as a crucial element in managing projects. We argue that key elements in managing uncertainty are reflective learning and sensemaking as enablers of flexibility and rapidness in decision-making regarding the choice of alternative actions in response to the situation. This approach is suggested in order to facilitate and maximize the outcome of project risk management practices. © 2007 Elsevier Ltd and IPMA.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Project management
  • Reflective processes
  • Risk
  • Uncertainty

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Authors

  • Olga Perminova

  • Magnus Gustafsson

  • Kim Wikström

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